Section: Halacha   Category: Tshuvos
Chelkas Yaakov: Are Men Obligated To Perform The Mitzva Of Bikur Cholim And Nichum Aveilim For Women?

In Hilchos Bikur Cholim the Shulchan Aruch (YD 35510) paskens that if a women has a stomach illness, a man should not attend her.  The Taz (5) says that this applies specifically to stomach illness, due to the nature of the disease and the care required.  However for other illnesses, a man is obligated to assist in all the services needed by a sick woman.  The Aruch HaShulchan (Sif 11) paskens that a man may attend a sick woman as long as there is no problem of Yichud.   

The Chelkas Yaakov (YD 223) adds that although the poskim hold that there is a mitzva of Bikur Cholim, you must look at the particular circumstances.  If the woman is in a state that she is not fully covered, it would be better not to attend her.  Moreover, often a sick person's needs are fully taken care of, either by the hospital or her family members.  Therefore if there is any doubt, you can do the Mitzva of Bikur Cholim by going into an outer room and inquiring about her condition (Sif 8).  You can also call on the telephone if their is no other choice.  

With regard to Nichum Aveilim when a woman is sitting Shiva, the Chelkas Yaakov says that the Rambam (Hilchos Avel 14) and the Rema (YD 355:10) pasken that Nichum Aveilim comes before Bikur Cholim.  If so, then just like a man must perform Bikur Cholim, he certainly is obligated to be Menachem a woman who is an Aveil.  He adds that it is unfathomable to worry that Nichum Aveilim will lead to something assur.    

Important Note: We try to convey the Tshuva to the best of our ability. We admit that our understanding may not be accurate. Please also understand that this Tshuva may not be the final word on this topic. One should consult a Rav before drawing any conclusions.